The Old Street site burnt down in the same fire that took out the East Rooms, and I assumed that their West end venue had gone the same way – metaphorically rather then actually.
As it turned out I was wrong, and MATCH! was re-launched under new ownership in January of this year. Taking over from the team behind the Rushmore Group, the new owners apparently share the vision of retaining the bar’s historical excellence. Which sounds like they haven’t changed much.
Which is basically true. As you enter the long, and relatively narrow bar you are greeted by the same modern style bar that I remember. Orange cylindrical lights, hang above leather sofas and squat round tables. The team have made liberal use of shades of brown wood, exposed brickwork, ornate mirrors and off-white walls. It’s still a very good looking if rather unremarkable bar. Towards the rear of the bar is a private dining and drinking area, which with its parquet floor wall tiling and leather sofas is a very cool space indeed.
The cocktail list is extensive, with a mix of variations of, and actual classic combos. Of the various drinks we tried, the mojito was probably the best. The punters are very West End, and the staff are charming and attractive. The music was very much in the background, and I was recall, good but not memorable.
And this is the challenge with the new MATCH! It is a good bar, and some might argue that it’s very good. And given the crowd it drew the night we visited it will no doubt be very successful. But despite its heritage, location and the passion of the team who work there it lacks impact. MATCH! has a lot of potential but needs to lift its game to stand out amongst what is a very competitive bar scene. I’d hate for it to go the same way as the dotcom and property boom.